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Non-fiction

Project 1917 is a series of events that took place a hundred years ago as described by those involved. It is composed only of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents

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A significant day for Yasnaya Polyana. Bearing red flags and badges, workers from the iron foundry arrived from Kosaya Gora to pay their respects to Tolstoy’s house and window.  Armed with Lev Nikolayevich’s portrait, they braved the deep snow and biting wind to visit his grave, with my two Tatyanas following suit. The workers sang songs and made speeches about freedom. In response, I made a brief speech of my own on the subject of L.N’s legacy. They sang “Eternal Memory” and took graveside photographs.

The revolution moved me with an absolute force that takes hold of personality, of an individual human, of his being, surging through the borders of imagination and bursting into the most intimate world of images, which themselves become part of the revolution…  

Diagilev went to Rome where the "Russian ballet" season is set to begin. He asked me to come and conduct The Firebird and Fireworks, for which he hired the Italian futurist Balla to do a special kind of illustrative set with light effects. I went to Rome. See more

One newspaper critic has become so drunk with revolution that he has suggested to blow up the monument to Alexander III. Before he used to vilify young art in his newspaper.

Autocracy has bit the dust. It expired quietly, almost imperceptibly, without a fight, without clinging to life—it did not even try to resist death. Only the very old, thoroughly exhausted organisms, die this way; they are not sick, nothing special has happened to them, but the body is worn out, and they are not able to live anymore. The firewood has burnt, the fire has gone out. “He died of weakness,” the people say. See more

I would like to say what I think about Kerensky. He is an unprincipled man, who changes his convictions, does not think deeply and is extremely superficial. His empty, semi-hysterical speeches don't correspond with his inner disposition. I boldly declare that no one has done as much harm to Russia as Kerensky. He is two-faced and always flirts with all political movements. Having no will power, he patronises the Bolsheviks!

We must be on our way. Every minute is precious. But how do we get into Russia? The imperialist massacre has reached its apogee; chauvinistic passions rage with all their might. Here in Switzerland, we’re cut off from all the warring states. Vladimir Ilyich is concocting ever more unworkable plans. These include: getting to Russia by aeroplane (just a few missing pieces in this jigsaw: the aeroplane itself, the requisite funds, official permission to make the trip, etc.); getting there via Sweden on the passports of two deaf-mutes (alas, we don’t speak a word of Swedish); securing passage in exchange for the release of German POWs; getting there via London; and so on and so forth. See more

The Austrian people suffer greatly. There is a shortage of the most rudimentary supplies. There is no milk anymore. The children die like flies. Tuberculosis is eating at Germany and Austria. The cities are in a dire state. Poverty is even felt in how people are dressed—everything is patched and ragged. Citizens of Berlin and Leipzig are the worst off. Hungary does not suffer at all, thanks to its rich resources. The uneven distribution of food leads to envy and enmity among various provinces. The Holy Alliance of two nations of Austria-Hungary, which impressed the Allies during the first years of the war, no longer exists.

The Russian revolution cannot but affect the whole of Europe; it will stir up the peoples of Europe and cause their stagnant blood to circulate more quickly. But heaven forbid the example we set for European peoples from becoming one of anarchy and spontaneous decay.

General Alexeev asks us to assemble in the main hall of the Mogilev headquarters. Nicky wants to address his former general staff with a farewell speech. By 11 o'clock the hall is full: generals, staff and company officers, and people from the retinue. Nicky enters, calm, composed, with something akin to a smile on his lips. He thanks his general staff and asks everyone to continue their work "with the same assiduousness and self-sacrifice." See more

In one of the Foot Guards regiments people refused to remove the insignia of Nicholas II from their epaulets. For both regiments, I have instructed that those who did not wish to take the oath were allowed to not participate in the ceremony; those who wanted to leave the emperor’s insignia on their epaulets, received permission to do so.

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Today:

-15
in Petrograd
-16
in Moscow

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1916
1918